Thursday, October 30, 2008

Election '08: Nick McGee on the Issues

Nick McGee is a Republican seeking election to District #9 in the Maine Senate. Click here to see if McGee will be on your ballot on Tuesday, November 4.

What are your top three legislative priorities for the upcoming session?
1. Improve Maine's economy: Investing in the creation of, and attracting existing businesses to the state that research, develop, manufacture and distribute alternative energy. Cuts on taxes and fees will help people and businesses in these tough economic conditions.
2. Health care reform: Allow Mainers to purchase health insurance from out-of-state carriers will reduce the consumers costs dramatically. It only makes sense that you are able to purchase a plan with a business that you trust and that suits your needs best, regardless of their physical location.
3. Reduce the tax burden: Maine needs relief now. Lowering taxes will give families more flexibility in their budgets to help meet the needs of rising energy, food and gas prices. More money in the consumers' pockets means more money spent in our economy.

How do you plan to implement each of these three goals?
1. To attract the new high-tech and manufacturing jobs of the future, we need a $100 million dollar per year investment in job training, education and internship programs that focus on the new and very promising future of alternative energy creation and manufacturing. We must have the skilled workers in place and a commitment to businesses looking to relocate to Maine that they will have a skilled workforce in place. Couple this with a 20-year tax break, Maine becomes one of the most attractive places to relocate a business.
2. Propose legislation to allow Mainers to purchase insurance across state borders. In a comparative study of New Hampshire vs. Maine, an individual can save as much as $2,000-$3,000 by buying their policy in New Hampshire that is the same as the one in Maine. Real savings to help families. Additionally, we need to end the Dirigo Health program. The program does not operate efficiently and with legislation that allows individuals to purchase health care outside of Maine in a more competitive environment, the premiums will be less for most Dirigo recipients than they already pay now.
3. A proposal that will return 50% of corporate taxes as long as half of the money returned goes to employees. This would essentially drop Maine's corporate tax rate from 11th highest in the nation to 22nd lowest. We would have a business tax environment better than half of the states in the U.S. Additionally, we need to start to support the working families of Maine. This would help boost family income and should spur job creation as well.

Which three state programs do you think should be maintained or expanded?
I would only advocate expanding two programs at this time:
1. Heating Assistance: We need emergency legislation to help families get through the winter.
2. OPEGA, the government oversight and evaluation program. This was threatened to be cut by the last legislature. They are there to look for efficiencies and savings in government. They have already found more savings in our government than it costs to fund the program. They have a backlog of work and a shortage of staff. Oversight of existing programs is essential to making sure we are not wasting taxpayer money.

Which three state programs do you think should be cut or eliminated?
1. Dirigo health program: Simple adjustments to our insurance laws would essentially make the program irrelevant. It is costly to operate and the money would be better spent directly assisting those that need help, rather than attempting to create a quasi-government run health care system. The program was created to help 130,000 Mainers that didn't have health insurance obtain affordable coverage. Only 3,000 of the people enrolled did not have insurance before. At a cost of $70 million per year, there are much better ways to help make health care affordable to more people than this program.
2. Clean Election Fund: First of all, I need to disclose that I accepted public financing through this program. This is my first time running and I believe that this program has allowed me to run, so I am grateful. However, I do not believe that sitting legislators should be able to utilize the program. I believe that they would have enough support from their constituents to pay for a campaign. I also do not believe in the matching funds formula. I think if you agree to accept the financing, that is all you should get. It's a decision that each candidate would have to make for themselves before getting involved.
3. Department of Health and Human Services: This $1 billion agency needs to be audited to find savings. I've knocked on a lot of doors, and the number of stories regarding abuse of the system in our social aid programs is astounding. I want to end abuse of the system, not pull the rug out from under those that truly need help.

What are your thoughts concerning the Dirigo Health program?
Great goals, terrible results. Eliminate the program and implement regulatory reform measures to reduce the health care costs for all Mainers, not just a few.

Do you plan to vote 'Yes' or 'No' on question 1 on this year's referendum ballot?
I am voting yes to repeal the beverage tax. I cannot support any measure that was passed in the middle of the night, without a public hearing and that would hurt the poor the most.

What are your thoughts concerning casinos in Maine?
I believe that casinos offer great economic opportunity. If we have a casino, it needs to be done right. I do not support the current referendum because of some very major changes it would make to existing laws: 1) It lowers the gambling age to 19. 2) It creates a 10-year monopoly within the state. 3) It dictates how the tax money generated would be spent in the state. That is the job of the legislature to determine how the money is used best, not a corporation.

Do you plan to vote 'Yes' or 'No' on question 2 on this year's referendum ballot?
No. The bill has too many problems and I don't have the confidence in the current legislature to make the necessary changes afterward.

Cite at least one example in which you cooperated with a member (or members) of another political party.
I am a Republican. But I interned and worked for a Democratic Rhode Island State Senator and Mayor for over 2 years after I left college. I believe that both parties offer good ideas and solutions; it's the quality and character of the person that matters most.

Cite at least one example in which you've differed with your own political party.
I believe in the traditional definition of marriage: One man, one woman. However, I am not opposed to civil unions because I view them as civil contracts that convey certain privileges (tax breaks, recognition in probate matters, etc.). I do not believe it takes away from the traditional and religious aspects of a marriage conducted before God.

What are your thoughts concerning school consolidation?
I support the effort to find administrative savings within the education system in Maine. I do not support taking away resources from the teachers or children. The consolidation law needs some tweaking, but ultimately I believe it is in the best interest of the state. It should be reviewed in two years to see what the actual results are. If childhood development is affected, then it needs to be reworked.

What are your thoughts concerning term limits for legislators?
Elections are the best term limits. If someone does a fantastic job, would you fire them because of the length of time they've been employed?

What are your thoughts concerning affirmative action in state hiring and contracting decisions, as well as in public university admissions?
I believe that affirmative action is a terrible policy. It is very clear that discrimination based on sex and gender is illegal under the Civil Rights Act of 1964, so why would any agency, business or other entity make it the centerpiece of an admission or job process?

What are your thoughts concerning the state budget?
It has been grossly mismanaged and the "tax-and-spend" mentality needs to end. We are looking at a $500 million budget gap. This is because the legislature has been irresponsible with the purse strings.

What are your thoughts concerning sex education in Maine's public schools?
I believe that systems like the one in New York work great. Parents are invited to come and sit through an entire class of sex ed. to see what is being taught. Parents are then allowed to ask questions and make suggestions. If any parent is uncomfortable with the materials or the manner in which it is taught, they are allowed to opt their child out of the program.

What are your thoughts concerning the state's current levels of sales tax and income taxes?
I think the sales tax rate is acceptable at this time. But I believe income taxes are too high and should be reduced.

What are your thoughts concerning Maine's gun laws?
I would not change the current laws and I would not support any further restrictions.

What are your thoughts concerning abortion?
I consider myself pro-life with certain exceptions. If the doctor told me that my wife's life may be in jeopardy during birth, I would do anything I could to save her life. I do not and will not support taxpayer funded abortions.

What are your thoughts concerning funding for education in Maine, particularly higher education?
K-12 funding needs to be increased to meet the 55% level mandated by voters in 2004. The state university system needs close examining to make sure that we do not have waste and it is quite possible that consolidation may be necessary. I would need more information before advocating for any specific measures.

(Editor's Note: Nick McGee's opponent, Joe Brannigan, did not respond to my e-mails.)

- John C.L. Morgan

No comments: